The federal government has begun seizing assets belonging to Anthony and Harriet Jinwright, the husband-wife team who once served as co-pastors of Greater Salem Church in west Charlotte.

The Jinwrights were convicted in May 2010 on multiple counts related to tax evasion. They were sentenced to prison and ordered to repay more than $1.2 million.

As of March 4, the government had seized cash accounts totaling more than $44,000. The largest was a $20,625.81 Primerica account owned by Anthony Jinwright. The smallest was a $21.36 Bank of America account owned by Harriet Jinwright.

Not all financial institutions notified of levies against the couple had responded.

Church to relinquish assets

In addition to the financial firms, the court also ordered Greater Salem to relinquish any assets that might belong to the Jinwrights. In Greater Salem’s response, dated Feb. 17, the church’s bankruptcy attorney, Richard Mitchell, said he had identified one or more storage facilities that might contain property belonging to the Jinwrights or A.L. Jinwright Funeral Service II Inc., a mortuary service owned by the couple. Mitchell said the church would notify the court after the items had been inventoried.

The Jinwrights earlier this year filed motions seeking to block the government seizures, arguing that their convictions had been appealed to the U.S. Fourth Circuit, where both are represented by court-appointed lawyers.

Appeals denied

U.S. District Judge Frank Whitney, who presided over the couple’s criminal trial, rejected their requests for a stay.

“First, there is a risk of dissipation of assets if the writ is squashed and the stay is granted,” he wrote. “Second, it is inconsistent for Defendant to assert that he is indigent and entitled to court-appointed counsel and at the same time argue that his personal assets (which could be used to pay counsel) should be preserved for his future consumption if he prevails on appeal. If the defendant in fact has non-liquid assets which can be reasonably converted into liquid assets, then he is not entitled to court-appointed counsel – or at least he should tender all those assets to the Clerk of Court to offset his cost of court-appointed counsel.”

Whitney said the same reasoning applied to Harriet Jinwright’s request for a stay.

Anthony Jinwright, 54, is serving eight years and nine months in the McDowell federal prison in West Virginia. Harriet Jinwright, 51, was sentenced to six years and eight months and was ordered to surrender to the federal Bureau of Prisons on or before April 30. could not confirm where she will serve her sentence.

Editor’s Note: Download selected (.pdf) court documents related to the seizure of Jinwright assets.

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